by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | Catholic World Report
“The event of the Incarnation, of God who became man, like us, shows us the daring realism of divine love. God’s action, in fact, was not limited to words. On the contrary, we might say that he was not content with speaking, but entered into our history, taking upon himself the effort and burden of human life.”
— Pope Benedict XVI, Audience, January 9, 2013 (L’Osservatore Romano, January 16, 2013)
“There is a fundamental criterion in the Christian interpretation of the Bible. The Old and New Testaments should always be read together and, starting with the New, the deepest meaning of the Old Testament is also revealed.”
— Pope Benedict XVI, Audience, January 9, 2013.
This year’s general audiences of the Pope are on faith. Each one is instructive. He tells us, in the January 9th Audience, that “the great mystery of God” is that “He came down from heaven to enter our flesh.” This entering our flesh was an event, not an imagination. It is generally thought that the idea of God becoming man while remaining God is unimaginable. Looked at from another angle, Benedict calls it a “daring” realism. That is, it really happened. In so doing, God risked the possibility of being rejected by man. The drama of Christ on the Cross includes this risk. That is, Christ as man was free; otherwise His sacrifice made no sense. He did freely choose His Father's will for Him.
The fact that the Word was made “flesh,” as we read in the Prologue of John, means that in Christ everything that is human was called to be saved. This salvation “affects man in his material reality and in whatever situation he may be. God assumed the human condition to heal it from all that separates it from him.” Ultimately, it enables us also to call God “Abba, Father.” We could not do this on the basis or our own nature alone. The capacity had first to be given to us.
Yet, once it was offered to us, in each case, it had to be accepted and lived freely by the one who receives this gift. Here we are dealing with something “that utterly defeats the imagination, that God alone could bring about and into which we can only enter with faith.”
A gift, Benedict tells us, is a sign, a sign of love and affection.